MPs vow to take a stand against Trade Bill

Tuesday, 21 November, 2017
  • Trade unions, social justice and environmental campaigners launch ‘trade democracy’ campaign in parliament
  • Trade Bill represents another power grab, say campaigners
  • ‘TTIP on steroids’ with USA must be stopped

Leading opposition MPs have today vowed to amend the Trade Bill when it is given a second reading, at the launch of a 'trade democracy' campaign in parliament.

Describing the Trade Bill as “another power grab, comparable with the Repeal Bill”, campaigners today launched a push for democracy and accountability in trade deals at an event in parliament. They warned of a ‘TTIP on steroids’ if the government is allowed to negotiate trade deals with no democratic input.   
A coalition of trade unions, social justice groups and environmental organisations including Trade Justice Movement, Global Justice Now, Traidcraft and Unison is calling for all trade deals to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, transparency, human rights impact assessments and a final veto by MPs.    
As things stand, MPs have no right to scrutinise, amend or stop trade deals they are concerned about. Campaigners have warned that more than a dozen working groups have already been set up to ‘lay the ground’ for trade deals with countries including the USA, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The US group has already met twice, and Trump’s commerce secretary stated last week that a prerequisite of any US-UK deal will be allowing lower standards for food into the UK.       
More than 100 MPs from all opposition parties, as well as the DUP, have signed EDM 128 calling for a range of measures to subject trade deals after Brexit to proper parliamentary scrutiny. It is the third most popular motion out of over 500 in the session.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:
“The Trade Bill is another power grab, comparable with the Repeal Bill. We’re abolishing the scrutiny of MEPs but rather than handing it to MPs, Dr Fox is taking it for himself. This means sweeping trade bills being negotiated – covering public services, food standards, intellectual property rules – with no meaningful input from MPs. It’s terrifying, and we have just a few months to stop it.”
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP said:  
“As the Government ploughs ahead with Brexit we face the very real possibility of a trade policy devoid of proper democratic accountability. We know the risks associated with bad deals – a race to the bottom on regulations, companies suing democratically elected governments and the outsourcing of jobs. If the Government is serious about giving people control over their future then it's crucial that future trade deals aren't just stitched up in backrooms by ministers, but instead are debated and voted upon by MPs before being passed."
Labour’s Shadow Secretary for International Trade Barry Gardiner MP said:  
“The Labour Party will be fighting every step of the way to ensure the Trade Bill provides for proper parliamentary scrutiny of our future trade deals. We totally reject the idea that this government can bring back the power to negotiate trade agreements from Europe and then bypass Parliament.”
Hannah Bardell MP, Trade Spokesperson for the SNP said: 
“Trade deals nowadays not only touch on tariffs, as important as they can be to a national economy, but also regulations, public services and more. That is why nations and regions need a say in these trade deals - setting guidelines, scrutinising, and being able to stop them if they don't work for everyone. Scotland won't let the Westminster government threaten our devolved powers through the Trade Bill.”

Take action

Photo: Barry Gardiner and Caroline Lucas at the parliamentary launch. Credit: Joyce Nicholls/Trade Justice Movement